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The 3 second rule

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  • The 3 second rule

    With more and more highways in India getting better, straighter and more organised, speeds are also going up. Although speeds are going up, our response timings to any sudden hurdle will still stay the same. In such a case, how does one ensure that accidents are averted?

    Simple- follow the 3 second rule.
    This is nothing but a more predictable way to 'Keep Safe Distance'. Ideally, it is mentioned that one should keep one car length of distance for every 10mph of speed. This 'car length' distance is vague and practically impossible to determine when you're driving. A better way to judge the distance is time. Here's how:

    Choose a fixed point of reference on the road that the car in front of you is just passing. This could be a road sign, a tree, an electicity/light pole, or a marking on the road, anything.
    Start counting 'One Thousand One.... One Thousand Two.... One Thousand Three'.
    If you cross that same reference point before you've finished counting '1003', then you're too close to respond in time and you need to back down further.

    In case if you're driving a larger car, or one without ABS, then you need to increase the time / distance to 4-5 secs.

    Also in case of adverse weather conditions such as rain, fog, etc, increase the time / distance.

    [Here is a video demonstrating the 3-second rule]

  • #2
    Wow kaiserketkar this was very insightful. That's one way of keeping a safe distance from the car in front. It’s a totally different scenario in foggy conditions. On our trip to Kasol/Malana, I saw at least eight cars driving very close to each other in the fog on NH8. The reason people do it is because they think it helps improve visibility. But all they are actually doing is putting their life and lives of others around at risk. The only way to drive safe in such a condition is to sit back, relax, back off and keep a good distance from the car in front of you.than if you were tailgating. Adding a few seconds following distance is a very minor inconvenience for a huge benefit should something occur. Everyone “thinks” they are driving far enough behind the vehicle in front of them, yet rear-end collisions are one of the most common forms of traffic accidents. Use the counting technique for following distances, and you can be much more confident that you’re driving at a safe distance.
    Those two trucks were almost side-by-side and that Xylo too wasn't keeping a safe distance. Come to think of it, neither were we in the S-Cross!
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    Everyone clustered around this truck when the going got really tough. This is unsafe to say the least.
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    Here the Wagon R and our S-Cross are at a safe distance. Both cars here are far away from the crowd in the front and we have a safe distance to manoeuvre our car out of danger.
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    • #3
      Yes, foggy conditions there's a much much higher likelihood of the car in front of you braking/ swerving etc. so you need to keep more distance ahead, but it's true, people frequently 'stick' to the car in front, or even worse, a heavy vehicle in front, guaranteeing themselves an accident should the truck brake.

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